Kensington Market Toronto

Since I was in grade six and my parents let me ride the subway/streetcar to downtown Toronto I have been visiting Kensington Market. A collection of streets in the heart of what is called Chinatown but what would be better described as Asia-town it is a mishmash of vintage shops, natural food stores, bead shops, cloth shops, coffee shops, book stores, music shops and 'save the world' organization offices.
Originally the area know as Kensington Market was a land lot purchased in 1815, by George Taylor Denison. The Denison family are a significant foundation in the history of Toronto (see links below). In 1850 the estate was subdivided and houses were built to house the new arriving Irish and Scottish immigrants.
Many of the original houses still exist and have been expanded on by many nationalities of newly arriving immigrants.
In the early 1900 to 1920 an influx of Eastern European immigrants generated a cluster of settlement in what was then referred to the Jewish Market. The Jewish merchants sold a plethora of goods and services reminiscent of the ‘Old Country’ operating small shops, delis, tailors, schmatta businesses, furriers and bakers. Approximately 60,000 Jews lived in and around Kensington Market during the 1920s and 1930s and there were upwards of 30 synagogues in the area. Today only two exist in the Kensington area:

This is a photo taken in August of the Minsk Synagogue. (http://www.theminsk.com/index.html)

New waves of immigrants from the Caribbean and East Asia changed the community, making it even more diverse as the century wore on. The Vietnam War brought a number of American political refugees to the neighbourhood, adding to its Marajuana Legalization and utopian flavours to local politics. Many shops sell marajuana pharaphanelia and the sent of herb is part of the fish shop, veggie-fruit market,Jamaican beef patty smell.

My favorite shop which two decades later makes me as happy as when I first visited as a teenager is a store called Courage My Love. The vintage shop sells beads, army wear, and really cool gently loved clothes. The staff is helpful and follow a motto of: “tell the truth and make sure the customer is happy when they leave the store,whether they have bought anything or not.”
This is a really good read, written from the heart, by one of the founders of this store:

Today the neighbourhood is a popular tourist destination and a centre of Toronto's cultural life as artists and writers continue to gravitated the area. Real estate in the area has increased sharply, but despite its increased appeal to professionals, Kensington still remains a predominantlyworking class, immigrant community.

Kinetic Art

According to the Tate glossary the word kinetic means relating to motion. Kinetic art is art that depends on motion either from wind, light, water or mechanical manipulation for its effects.
Artists have incorporated motion in art since ancient Egyptian times. In modern times mixing art with movement was explored by such artist as Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp and Naum Gabo. During a period where technology and machinery gained popularity so to did kinetic art.

Tim Fort

Kinetic art considers the way that art looks when combined with motion. Sculptures are the most typical expression of this art form. Three dimensional works which produce moving shadows or are actually in motion themselves are characteristic of the spirit of this form. Op Art is often compared to kinetic art and many artist produce works that are interchangeably defined in both categories.

Two of my favorite contemporary kinetic artist are Tim Fort and Yaacov Agam.

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